I remember first hearing about women consuming their placentas after childbirth on some tv show where a woman blended hers into a smoothie. It was about the most disgusting thing I could think of and I thought it was absolutely crazy. But, over the years, I heard more and more stories about the benefits of consuming your placenta and was intrigued. I was never going to be a placenta smoothie maker, but the encapsulation process seemed harmless…. basically your placenta is dehydrated and then the powder is put into capsules that you swallow like a regular pill or vitamin (it’s totally tasteless too).
So why do people do this crazy thing? The whole idea stems from the fact that many animals eat their placenta after birth. It’s supposed to replenish valuable nutrients and hormones and help create balance going into the postpartum period. There have been limited research studies done on this practice to prove that it is indeed helpful, but the anecdotal benefits are abundant. It’s been said to help in the following areas:
- Alleviate anxiety
- Promote energy to combat fatigue from childbirth & little sleep
- Restore iron levels in blood
- Increase milk production
- Decrease postpartum depression levels
- Assist with the release of the hormone oxytocin
When I was pregnant, I researched the studies and read countless stories about how much it helped other women. I found a local source who could do it for $100 (many others charge upwards of $500) and thought it was worth the experiment. I know that the postpartum period can be really difficult for some women, and I figured that if this simple thing could help make it more positive for me, that I had to try. It was so easy- the woman came and got my placenta from the freezer at the birth center and then delivered the pills to my house a couple days later. I started taking a couple pills twice a day and decreased to just one pill a day after the first few weeks (they lasted for 10 weeks total for me, but it depends on frequency you take them and how large your placenta is). They don’t have to be taken with food or anything… I just took them when I remembered.
Did it work? I think so! Would I do it again? Definitely. Probably not worth the $500 some charge (am I in the wrong business!?), but certainly for $100.
I was pretty skeptical that I would see any kind of benefit. As a first time mom, I had no idea how you were supposed to feel postpartum, so its hard to know what’s normal for me and what difference was made. However, there were three positive ways I did really feel like the pills helped. I noticed these things after forgetting to take the pills and either realizing it later or my husband asking if I had taken them. And none of the three were a one time thing… I saw the pills make a difference repeatedly.
- Milk production – Due to my baby’s tongue tie and resulting ineffective latch, I struggled with milk supply. I was able to pump several ounces more on days that I took placenta pills… I’m bummed I am out now!
- Breakouts – I was lucky to not have lots of blemishes during pregnancy, but it’s been awful postpartum with all the hormones. My skin was definitely clearer when I was taking the pills.
- Emotional balance – This was the biggest one for me; even my husband would agree he really saw a difference. The only times in the first few weeks I ever got super emotional where I felt out of control with sadness or crying were days that I forgot to take pills. After taking them, I would feel much better, if not completely normal, within 30 minutes. Placebo effect? Maybe. But, since my husband saw the change too, I feel it had to be true.
So, even though the evidence-based proof is limited and the placebo effect cannot be ruled out, I certainly saw a benefit and would definitely recommend to my friends. Do you think you would ever try it?
P.S. Because I asked before getting it done, I thought you might also be curious. Having gestational diabetes does not mean you cannot/should not get your placenta encapsulated; it will have no effect through the pills.
More about medical research on placenta encapsulation: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-on-placenta-encapsulation/